Business

Erik Gibbs

Alibaba wants to put domain name management on the blockchain

The China-based retail behemoth Alibaba thinks – and rightfully so – that the blockchain is the perfect spot for logging domain name registrations. It has filed for a patent (in pdf) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for such a system, suggesting a solution that would generate a “unified blockchain domain name” (UBCDN) containing a blockchain domain name and a linked chain identifier.

That combination would result in the creation of a single container of data that includes “a UBCDN of the blockchain instance, a digital signature of an owner of the UBCDN of the blockchain instance (a UBCDN owner) on the UBCDN, and a domain certificate of the UBCDN.” The system would be used to manage domain names in cross-chain interactions across different blockchains, and Alibaba points to several examples of how the technology could be beneficial.

The company adds in the patent filing, which was submitted yesterday, “Furthermore, the UBCDN can include a human readable identifier or label, helping users to memorize and reach a blockchain instance easily, and thus promoting adoption or use of the blockchain instance. As an example, owners or operators of public blockchains, private block chains, or consortium blockchains can choose blockchain domain names that correspond to their names, helping users to remember the identifiers of the blockchain instances.”

While the system doesn’t describe a solution for Internet addresses, which rely on Domain Naming Servers to link names with IP addresses, putting domain name registrations on the blockchain would be a perfect way to track all Internet domain names, the entities behind the registrations, the dates the names were registered and all related data. It would be a much more efficient way to discover information related to a domain name, instead of the clunky “WHOIS” that has to currently be performed on various platforms to try to ascertain all the details.

Alibaba points out that there are already similar projects in the works, but that they’re limited in scope. The company explains, “Unlike existing cross-chain implementations such as COSMOS, that uses a relay chain for cross-chain interactions, in which each blockchain is assigned an identifier (ID) within the relay chain network but the ID only has a local scope and cannot be reused in other relay chain networks, in the described domain name scheme, the UBCDN can be used and is recognizable globally by all blockchain instances in the unified block chain [sic] network.”

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